Canadian Musician - May-June 2022 - Page 22

ROAD TEST

Dunlop Justin Chancellor Cry Baby Wah Bass Pedal

By Hal Rodriguez

For the bassist who ’ s not afraid to stand out , Tool bass player Justin Chancellor ’ s new signature pedal by Dunlop offers three pedals in one — a filter , wah , and fuzz . The two different types of wah that , when combined with the built-in fuzz , boldly take bass tones into new sonic territory . The first type is a classic wah effect driven by Dunlop ’ s red Fasel Inductor and the second is an envelope filter with a smoother warbling voice . The fuzz , based on Justin ’ s vintage fuzz pedal , can be added to either modes of wah and results in lead tones suited for lines that need to cut through the band .

Features This custom wah pedal comes in a sturdy casing with a distinct blue finish , several variable controls , two footswitches , and a kick switch . The top half of the pedal has the first foot switch that allows you to toggle between the two modes of wah labelled “ Wah ” and “ U . K . Filter .” Each wah voice can be tweaked with its independent Volume and Q controls . Turning the Q control clockwise increases the treble frequencies and exaggerates the effect , while turning it counter clockwise tames the high end and makes it subtler . The wah modes turn on only when the rocker is depressed — when you take your foot off the rocker or return it to its default position , only your instrument ’ s unaffected bass tone is heard .
The lower half of the pedal is designated to the fuzz effect , which has its own footswitch for turning it on and three controls : fuzz , tone , and volume . The fuzz control adjusts the amount of gain , the tone control adjusts the EQ , and the third adjusts the overall level . Like the wah effects , the fuzz only turns on when the rocker is depressed . However , the kick switch on the bottom right corner of the pedal allows you to use the fuzz independently of the rocker .
The Justin Chancellor wah pedal can be powered by either a 9V battery or power adaptor . Finally , the pedal also has a Bypass
Delay knob that controls how long it takes for the effects to fade out when the rocker is returned to its original position .
Performance The first thing that stood out to me was how smooth the transition was between playing with my unaffected bass tone and the wah effects . I could seamlessly and rapidly switch between basslines suited for the rhythm section to playing lead with wah-driven licks by gently depressing the rocker . The wah effect turns on immediately even when the rocker is depressed to the slightest degree — unlike on other pedals , where the rocker first needs to be clicked on in the most downward position for the wah to turn on . This allowed me to use the Justin Chancellor wah in a very subtle way , sneaking it in on just certain notes or passages with just the slightest amount of pressure on the rocker .
In the first wah mode , the effect was dramatic and aggressive as the tone has more bite to it . This mode reminds me of the sound of Dunlop ’ s classic Cry Baby Wah pedal for guitarists . There was a noticeable drop in the low-end frequencies of my tone , but this voice lends itself well to playing higher up on the fretboard with a lot of articulation . Adding the fuzz to this wah creates a sound reminiscent of Jimmy Page ’ s coveted vintage Tone Bender effect in Led Zeppelin ’ s early days — rude , unforgiving , but sure to turn heads if you ’ ve got the chops or audacity to rip solos .
In the U . K . Filter wah mode , the effect preserved more of my low-end frequencies , so there was less of a noticeable change in my EQ . This wah voice is subtler , with a little less sweep than the first wah mode , but better suited for playing in the lower frets of the bass for slinky funk , R & B , and hip-hop basslines . When I kicked on the fuzz , I was surprised that this subtle voice transformed into a searing synthesizer-like tone that one might hear in a Daft Punk jam . This would make it perfect for playing hooks and riffs that need to take centre stage in dance or pop music .
Summary The Justin Chancellor Cry Baby Wah pedal offers premium wah , fuzz , and tone-shaping effects for bassists that want to do more than just hold down the low end in the rhythm section . Simply stepping on the rocker can change the EQ and character of your bass enough so that the tone can suddenly cut through the band . This makes it perfect for playing melodies , riffs , licks , and solos like a lead instrument . While moving the rocker back and forth to create that classic wah wah effect is fun , I personally enjoy using the pedal more like an EQ pedal : quickly depressing and releasing the rocker makes certain notes in my basslines stand out , resulting in a more dynamic performance . This ability to smoothly transition between unaffected and effected tones while playing busy lines is worth the price of this pedal alone .
Hal Rodriguez is a musician , educator , and published writer based in Toronto . Contact him on Instagram @ halrodrig .
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